Are Yanks targeting Goldschmidt? Brewers go 1 up in NLCS.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

From MLB.Com:

Could Goldschmidt be a fit for Yankees?
Oct. 15: Facing a critical juncture this offseason after missing the playoffs in 2018, the D-backs are reportedly expected to listen to offers for a number of their top players, including Paul Goldschmidt.

• Complete list of free agents this offseason

The problem for Arizona, as ESPN’s Buster Olney noted via Twitter, is that there aren’t a lot of obvious fits for Goldschmidt, as many contenders are set at first base. However, Olney speculates that the Yankees could enter the mix for the six-time All-Star, who can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

New York’s current options at first base include in-season acquisition Luke Voit and Greg Bird, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy or consistently produce during his big league tenure. The Yankees will need to decide if either player is a long-term answer.

Voit seemingly has the inside edge to earn a starting job in 2019, as he hit .322 with 15 homers in only 47 games with the club and became an everyday lineup fixture down the stretch. But Voit will be 28 on Opening Day, and he’ll need to show that his 2018 performance was not a fluke.

Meanwhile, Goldschmidt remains one of the best hitters in baseball, recording a .290 average with 33 homers and a .922 OPS in 2018, and he could help the Yankees close the gap with the Red Sox and Astros in the American League.

Goldschmidt, 31, has twice been runnerup for MVP in the NL, and once finished third. He led the NL in HR and RBI in 2013. He is a 6x All Star, 3x Gold Glove winner, and 3x Silver Slugger winner and we don’t know how he will do in GG, MVP or SS this season. He hit .290-33-83 this season, OPS+ 139 and his 162 g. average is .297-31-105, 18 SB, OPS+ 145. A beast. He averages 97 walks and 157 strikeouts per season. Far more accomplished than Bird, far more experienced and a sure thing than Voit. Simply stated, one of the best players in the NL, period. And better defensively, too.

If the Yanks deal for him, they’d want to get him to a contract extension because he is a free agent after the 2019 season.

The Brewers won Game 3 of the NLCS, 4-0, to go up 2 games to 1 in the NLCS.

Chris Sale of Boston has been released from the hospital after his stomach ailment.

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Boston evens ALCS at 1 game each, Sale hospitalized.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Boston won Game 2, 7-5 over Houston, to even the ALCS at one game each.

Boston does have a new concern. From mlb.com:

Red Sox ace Chris Sale was sent to Massachusetts General Hospital with a stomach illness on Sunday, and he didn’t travel with the team to Houston, where the American League Championship Series against the Astros will resume on Tuesday.

The Red Sox are hopeful he will be ok to start Game 5 on Thursday.

Game 3 of the NLCS between Milwaukee and the Dodgers is today. That series is also tied.

NFL great Jim Taylor, fullback for the Lombardi Packers of the 1960s, died Saturday morning at the age of 83. #31 for those teams, he was on the 1961, 1962, 1965 NFL champs as well as the Super Bowl I (1966) champs. He scored the first TD in Super Bowl history. He was the one Chuck Bednarik tackled at the 9-yd. line when the Eagles beat the Packers 17-13 for the NFL Championship, and Taylor also won the NFL rushing title in 1962—the only year Jim Brown (1957-1965) did NOT lead the league in rushing.

 

Dodgers even NLCS, Houston takes Game 1 of ALCS

Yankee Stadium Frieze

Turning back to live baseball and catching up on the four teams remaining.

After losing Game 1 (and seeing ace Clayton Kershaw give up a HR to a pitcher), the Dodgers had a come from behind win in Game 2, with Justin Turner delivering the big blow, to even the NLCS at a game apiece. The Dodgers and Brewers are off today, and resume the series in La-La Land on Monday.

Game 2 of the ALCS is tonight, and Houston used a four-run 9th inning, featuring two HR, to beat Boston 7-2 in Game 1. Boston only got three hits in the game.

Yankees news: Didi to miss at least half of 2019. All coaches look to return. What off-season moves will be made?

Yankee Stadium Frieze

After a few days of mourning and reflection, some Yankees news. It’s best to categorize things since there is a lot of news (and opinion from me) .

Managers and coaches. All are expected to return. I do know some people a little peeved at Boone and/or Rothschild. But no changes are expected to be made, with all of the staff coming back. One suggestion I would have had: Bring back Tony Pena to work exclusively with Gary Sanchez. Sanchez clearly took a step backwards this year without former good defensive catchers ex-manager Joe Girardi and ex-coach Tony Pena there to guide him. I’d bring back Pena. But improving Sanchez—on both sides of the ball—-is a priority.

Speaking of defense, it’s not only Sanchez, but the infield corners need work. Voit did a great job, but defensively, he reminds me a bit of a second version of Jason Giambi. We know that Andujar is a work in progress. But what about SS now that Didi Gregorius is expected to miss at least half of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow? Who will replace Didi? Move Gleyber Torres over and re-sign Walker to play 2B? Keep Torres at 2B and re-sign Hechevarria for SS? Ronald Torreyes (who I don’t think of as an everyday player)? Or go full out for Manny Machado for SS until Didi is ready, then move Manny to 3B and figure out what to do with Andujar at that point (move to LF, move to 1B, trade for a need (pitching?) at the deadline)? The OF defense was fine, but LF is a “?” for next year and we’ll get to that.

Catching. See above with Sanchez. They need to improve on catching depth. Keeping Erik Kratz (38 but now in the NLCS with Milwaukee) could have helped. But Kyle Higashioka as #3 has not proven he can hit. There isn’t much below Higashioka, and the new recent kids that were drafted 1 and 2 in the draft are years away. A little more and better catching depth behind Romine and Higashioka would be welcome. Also, Sanchez has to be what he should be. 2018 was disastrous for him.

Infield. Improve the defense, as mentioned above. I’d keep Torres at 2B and not mess with him by moving him around. As for 1B, is Voit the real deal or a mirage? Boone states that Voit has a leg up, deservedly, on Bird for 1B for 2019. The Yanks would benefit more if Bird realized his potential since it would balance the lineup better. Losing Didi’s lefty bat would hurt, even if they do sign Machado. After all, Sanchez, Voit, Torres, Machado, Andujar, Judge, Stanton …. all righty bats. Hicks is a switch-hitter. Where is the lefty bats for Yankee Stadium? But performance matters, and Voit clearly outperformed Bird in 2019. But is he for real? If not, could Bird rebound or is he trade bait? Could Andujar handle 1B or LF if Didi returns (and Didi is a free agent after 2019) and Machado (if the Yanks sign him) moves to 3B from SS when Didi comes back? With Didi out, what the Yanks do here is a major question mark, at least until Machado is signed by someone. As for infield depth, it will be interesting to see if Hechevarria and/or Walker are re-signed. And you still have Torreyes. I am not sold on Tyler Wade because he hasn’t yet shown he can hit MLB pitching.

Outfield and DH. Set except at one position. Stanton, Judge and Hicks are set. The question mark is LF. It is very doubtful the Yanks would sign Bryce Harper, even if Harper would balance out the lineup better than Machado. Do the Yanks bring back Brett Gardner? They can exercise his $12.5MM option or buy him out at $2MM. Do they buy him out and re-sign him for less than $12.5MM? How is the health of Clint Frazier? Here is a position where it will be interesting to see what the Yanks do. They like McCutchen, but he is a free agent, and will he be affordable? If they bring McCutchen back, no need for Gardner. If not, does Gardner come back but platoon with Frazier? And the albatross, Jacoby Ellsbury, is still there. What to do with him? Frankly, and I hate to disappoint Yankees’ fans (for I like Gardner, too). I’d buy Gardner out and let him walk. He is 35 and coming off a .236 season. His OPS+ was just 86. If you do bring him back, it’s as a fourth OF. But you are stuck with Ellsbury unless the Yanks could dump his salary. I’d like to bring McCutchen back as the starting LF (lineup balance once again a problem, though), and have Ellsbury and Frazier in reserve. Frazier because of his youth (still only 24), Ellsbury for no other reason than you are probably stuck with him. To bring back and make room for Gardner, the Yanks must somehow dump Ellsbury.

Starting Pitching. You can’t have a postseason where your starters go five innings or less. You need a stud like a Sale, Verlander, Cole, etc., that will go at least six and hopefully seven innings. So far, Luis Severino has not stepped up in the postseason. J.A. Happ is a free agent and I would try to re-sign him, but at 36, to no more than a 2-year deal. The Yanks are also expected to get Patrick Corbin who is a free agent. Corbin, a lefty, was 11-7, 3.15, with 246 strikeouts for Arizona this year and is a 2x All-Star. He’s from NY state and he and his family grew up as Yankees’ fans. If you can get BOTH Happ and Corbin, then I let CC go. CC turns 39 next July, and really doesn’t give you length out of a starter anymore. You can’t have starters that just give you 4-5 innings, no matter how good your bullpen is. You need some length out of your starters. Besides, how much confidence do you have in CC’s health (his knee was just operated on again and cleaned out again)? You need to turn to youth and get younger and Gardner and CC are hitting the ages where performance is only going to decline and health becomes an issue. So if you have Severino-Tanaka-Happ-Corbin that is a solid four and you can open #5 up to who wins the job, Sheffield, Adams, Loaisiga, German, etc. Break in a youngster. I’m not sold on Cessa. And this Michael King may be a real dark horse. But breaking in one of those youngsters would be easier if both Happ AND Corbin are signed. (or sign Corbin, let Happ go and make a blockbuster trade for a stud pitcher? And no, even if Kershaw opts out, I don’t see the Yanks going after Kershaw. He is great, but his injury problems and postseason failures do concern me). I don’t expect Lynn back and recent reports are that the Yanks are going to work hard to move Sonny Gray. Jordan Montgomery could return late next season.

Bullpen. Pretty solid here, with Betances, Chapman, Green and Holder set. Robertson and Britton are free agents and the Yanks must bring back one (if not both) of them. Cole and Kahnle are probably expendable and it will be interesting to see what the Yanks do with Kahnle. Do they drop someone like a Cessa or German into middle relief? What about Montgomery when he comes back from TJ surgery? May want to bring him back slowly.  Boone does have to learn to get guys up earlier though. One fault I saw with Boone this year was that you could see a pitcher in trouble, and you looked to the bullpen and no one was warming up. By the time someone was warm and in the game it was too late. You want depth out of your starters, but you can’t roll the dice and push them when they are clearly out of gas, either. Keep an eye out for Tarpley as a lefty out of the bullpen next year, especially if the Yanks do not retain Britton.

Anyway, you know moves are coming. Some will be HUGE and we’ll see what happens.

Ex-Yankee manager Joe Girardi has apparently talked to the Reds and Rangers about a managerial job with one of them. Ex-Yank Eric Chavez is a consideration for the Angels’ job and ex-Yankee Hensley Meulens (SF bench coach) for the Twins’ job. Ex-Yankee Coach Joe Espada may be getting a look, too. He’s currently bench coach for the Astros.

Formula to predict playoff series?

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I don’t know how accurate this could be, but here could be a formula to predict playoff series. Of course, there are always upsets.

But ERA+ added to OPS+.

ERA+ average is 100. A 117 means your team’s ERA is 17% Above average.

OPS+ is On Base Pct. + Slugging average in relation to the league. 100 is average. 117 means your on base % + slugging average is 17% Above league average.

So how does this postseason add up?

AL Wild card game. A’s combined total 218, Yanks 224. Yanks win.
NL Wild Card Game. The only upset. Rockies 198, Cubs 213. Rockies win.

ALDS Yanks 224, Boston 229. Boston wins
ALDS Cleveland 221, Houston 239.

According to this, Houston should beat Boston in the ALCS.

NLDS Dodgers 234, Braves 207. Dodgers won.
NLDS Brewers 209, Rockies 198. Brewers won.

According to this, the Dodgers should beat the Brewers in the NLCS.

Also, according to this, we get a repeat of last year’s WS, with Houston (239) topping the Dodgers (234) once again.

Hmmm…..

Game 4 ALDS. Yanks are eliminated, 4-3. Furious comeback comes up short.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

They’ll talk about that 16-1 beating all winter. They will talk about Boone leaving Severino in for the fourth, about Lynn coming in instead of Green, I don’t know if any of it would have mattered, considering the score.

We’ll remember the two one-run losses even more. Win those, and the Yanks would still be playing, despite that beatdown.

The Yanks lost Game 4 of the ALDS to Boston Tuesday night, 4-3, and therefore lost the series 3 games to 1. The Red Sox advance to face Houston in the ALCS.

You now wonder which players will be back. CC, Gardner (0 for 8 in the ALDS), Robertson, Britton, Happ, Lynn, Walker, Hechevarria and McCutchen (2 for 15 in the ALDS) are all free agents or have options that may not be picked up.

A couple of key hits here or there, liners that found Boston gloves or that went foul while their balls blooped in. Shots that fell short of the fence while theirs barely cleared the wall, that we’ll remember.

Aaron Boone did shake up the lineup, hoping to get more lefty oomph in there. Gardner started in LF, Hicks in CF, Walker at 3B. McCutchen and Andujar sat.

CC got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, but gave up 3 runs in the third. One of the hits a bleeder by Yankee-killer Steve Pearce. One RBI double appeared to be misplayed by Gardner, but to be fair, it was hit so hard it probably handcuffed him.

Boone’s bullpen management may be questioned a bit. It’s one thing that hopefully improves next year.

Zach Britton gave up a HR in the fourth to Christian Vazquez. 4-0 Boston. The HR just cleared the short porch.

The Yanks finally got on the board in the fifth when Sanchez doubled, Torres got an infield hit and Gardner a SF.

In the bottom of the ninth, Judge led off with a walk, Didi singled and after Stanton (4 for 18, 6 strikeouts in the ALDS) struck out, Voit walked. Walker was HBP to make it 4-2. Sanchez just missed a game-winning grand slam, getting under it and hitting it to the warning track for a SF, 4-3. But Torres barely missed beating out a dribbler and the game, series, and season were over.

Up until that ninth inning, the Yanks had only scored 2 runs in their previous 19 innings. That won’t get it done.

Just like in 2017, in those games in Houston that year, the Yanks couldn’t come up with the big hit when you needed it.

The homers are nice. That HR record is nice. But hitting with RISP, being able to get the bat on the ball, avoiding strikeouts, going the other way, situational hitting, those are things that need to be improved upon for the Yanks to advance to the next levels. Homers alone won’t do it. Also, baserunning. The Red Sox were 5 for 5 in stealing bases in the series, the Yanks didn’t even attempt one.

Starters who go deep would help too. The longest any Yankee starter pitched in this postseason was the five innings Tanaka went in getting the Game 2 win.

Hopefully for the youngsters, Torres and Andujar (1 for 9 in the series), this postseason was a learning experience. Same for veterans like Stanton, making his first postseason appearance. Learn from it.

The bullpen did a great job keeping the Yanks in the game and giving them a chance.

Gregorius 2 hits (out of the Yanks’ 5)

Sabathia (L) 3 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 2 W, 1 K.
Britton 2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 0 W, 3 K. Gave up 1 HR.
Robertson 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 4 K.
Betances 1 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 W, 3  K.
Chapman 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.

More post-mortem analysis to come in the coming weeks.

Game 3 ALDS. Yanks pushed to brink after 16-1 spanking.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

There’s no nice way to put this.

The Yanks were embarrassed in Game 3 of the ALDS, losing 16-1 to Boston.

The loss puts them at the brink of elimination. They need to find a way to put it behind them and win tonight (Tuesday) to force Game 5 in Fenway on Thursday.

To do that, they need the bats to revive and for 38 year old CC Sabathia to pitch a good game.

Luis Severino gave up a run in the second, two in the third and the Red Sox erupted for seven in the fourth to put the game away.

And they kept adding on after that. No word if they were blasting “Sweet Caroline” in their locker room after the game.

It was just ugly, and the worst beating the Yanks have ever suffered in the postseason.

3-2, 16-1, it’s still just one loss, and hopefully the Yanks can overcome it. But it was ugly.

16 runs on 18 hits and 8 walks.

How ugly was it? Austin Romine pitched the bottom of the eighth and gave up a 2-run HR for the Red Sox’ final two runs.

That ugly.

The Yanks only got five hits, two by Giancarlo Stanton. Ex-Yankee Nathan Eovaldi owned them all night.

There isn’t much more to write about with this one.

Turn the page. They have to, or they go home for the winter.

The one thing Yankees’ fans can hope for? That 2004 Boston comeback against the Yanks started after the Yanks won Game 3 of that ALCS 19-8. Also, in 1960, the Pirates beat the Yanks in the WS despite losing three games by scores of 10-0, 12-0 and 16-3.

Hopefully last night’s beat down woke up and angered the Yanks.

Umpire Angel Hernandez had a bad night. It seems every time you looked up, a call of his was being challenged (and proven wrong).

Severino (L) 3+ IP, 6 R, 7 H, 2 W, 2 K.
Lynn 1/3 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 1 W, 0 K.
Green 1 2/3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 W, 0 K.
Holder 2 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Tarpley 1 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Romine 1 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 1 W, 0 K. Gave up 1 HR.

In other series, Houston swept Cleveland and awaits the winner of this series.

The Dodgers eliminated the Braves 3 games to 1 and will face the Brewers in the NLCS.